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Sunday, August 31, 2008

The FAIR Countdown!

The countdown began weeks ago as my children and I have a tradition counting the days to our FAVORITE event! For what you may ask? THE FAIR! ! ! Thinking of THE Fair, this reminds me September marks my one year anniversary of blogging for The News Tribune. I first began blogging at THE Fair (also known as the Puyallup Fair or the official title: the Western Washington Fair) during THE Fair in 2007. While this can be an entire blog in itself, I am here today to tell you about the countdown. It begins in early August, thinking ahead to the Fall; then knowing THE Fair is coming up soon. So I count the days ahead, mark each day THE Fair runs on my calendar and then call my “Fair Friend” Mary and my children and schedule our fair dates!

Those who know me well know I LOVE THE Fair. I attend every year a follow a fun tradition of parking in the same lot, walking through the Red Gate and then immediately walking to the scone booth under the grandstand to buy a scone. The next tradition is to (of course) buy a caramel apple from Maroce’s Candy (who are my relatives) and to sit on the yellow bench and people watch.

What else do I love about THE Fair? I love the scones; the Krusty Pups; people watching; the Hobby Hall; the Jersey cows; the Wilcox Milk booth and of course the old fashioned doors of the corral bathroom. This year fellow blogger, friend, Ramette and neighbor, Kim and I will be attending THE Fair together and will be blogging about THE Fair. I am excited to share my love of THE Fair with Kim and show her all the sights and sounds that keep me coming back year after year.

Five, four, three, two, one . . . the countdown has begun!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

BNSF Railways 2nd Annual Family And Community Health Day

Shahraim Charles Allen (phone: 253/961-1021; fax: 253/212-3740, coordinator for BNSF 2nd Annual Family and Community Health Day would like you to consider attending BNSF second Annual Family and Community Health Day on Saturday, September
6th, in Titlow Park located at 8425 6th Avenue in Tacoma, Washington 98465. The all day program will begin at 8:00 am and continue until 5:00 pm; the Participant booths will open at 12:00 pm. This is a great opportunity to bring together BNSF Railway's employees, their families and member of the Community to enjoy a fun and educational day. For further information, check out Sunday's Tacoma News Tribune. The Tacoma News Tribune is one of the sponsors of this fun filled and educational day.
Free food is being provided by 2Busy2Cook-Cookout Style Food, Steamers Seafood Cafe' and Cold Stone Ice Cream Parlor of Lakewood, Wa. Anyone who would want to donate food to this wonderful event, please contact Sharhraim Charles Allen at the phone number listed at the beginning of this post.

Summer Afternoon In People's Park

Warm late summer afternoon. I am sitting in People’s Park. Across from me a man andwoman are sitting talking.

Cars pass by. You can tell this park is located in a very alive neighborhood. Folks in cars greet each other with a sweet, saucy beep of their horns.

Behind me I can hear a child’s voice. A child and woman are coming by. They are right behind me. Good. The child is having a chance to try out the slide. I remember those slides when I was a little boy in Houston. Up the ladder, sitting carefully down, and then letting go, laughing and being scared at the same time. Too cool!

The wind is blowing on my neck and dancing merrily with the trees in front of me. Thank goodness for that breeze because when it stops the hot sun burns away at the back of my neck.

The street in front of me is very busy, the street to my right even busier. I am amazed at the number of trucks I see on these streets.

My step dad had a pickup truck which he used to do work around the neighborhood after he retired. His weak heart finally led him to let go of those jobs. But he drove that truck, Monday through Saturday. On Sunday he drove Mom around in their big, beautiful Buick.

Great driver, faithful husband--- I liked him.

The lady who was sitting at that table… just came back out of the building and she smiles beautifully. She shouts at the fellow she had been talking to at the table. He was about a half a block away from her. He is wearing earphones. He must not have been listening to music; he heard her, came back, and they continued their walk.

Now two young women with a baby stroller have come to the park. One of them has placed a little baby in a swing. That toddler cannot be older than eight to ten months.
I love the wonderful way she smiles at the baby. The baby is a quiet, sweet little boy. The other woman is sitting on a park bench with the baby carriage. She is watching patiently.
Now the woman is taking the little boy to the slide. She is going to slide down with him. Thank the Lord for loving women. Her friend is still sitting with the baby carriage. Quiet, patient woman, she is for sure.

Where is that breeze? Late summer and that sun is cooking me.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tea and Sea

Tea and the beach are two of my favorite things in life. Throw in a drive down the beautiful Oregon coast to Tillamook and you have cause for joy. A drive along Oregon’s rocky coastline that ends in Tillamook at La Tea Da can make for a pleasant, relaxing experience.

To celebrate the pending arrival of a new grandchild as well as three half-birthdays, our family and friends made the journey from Ilwaco, WA to Tillamook, OR for tea at La Tea Da. I have had tea at numerous tearooms in the Northwest and La Tea Da remains my favorite because of the food and service. It cannot be denied that the getting there is part of the experience.

My daughter-in-law Ana, headed for two months in Brazil, had never been to La Tea Da and thought it would make a good excuse to visit if we held the baby shower there before she leaves. My daughter-in-law Jamie, who is expecting, stopped in Seaside to get her grandmother. Friends from Gig Harbor had come for the weekend as well and so the tea group was ten in number, leaving behind my uncle, two sons and my husband to wander Ilwaco’s Saturday Market and buy tuna for the evening’s barbecue.

Our two hour drive from Ilwaco, WA to Tillamook, OR was scenic taking us through Cannon Beach,

Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, and Nehalem.

We got to “ouuu” and “awww” over all the pretty pink baby clothes for the baby

and seven High Teas and two Scamp’s Teas for our two little scamps sent us home with full tummies and boxes of leftovers. Best of all, I had a most beloved aunt all to myself for the four hours’ round trip drive.

Ana and the scamps.

The Rose-of-Sharon is in Bloom

The Rose-of-Sharon was in bloom when I returned to Gig Harbor from my summer in Ilwaco. That can only mean that school is about to start bringing with it new faces of students and staff, a new schedule, new challenges.

When I still had four school-age children, back-to-school meant laying out a lot of cash. I was sorry to see my young ones go off to spend the bulk of their day with someone else and as a mostly single mom my pocketbook was wrung out to pay for all the things on the lists sent home by the school district (including graphing calculators that they never needed again) as well as the school insurance and the school photographs. Back-to-school clothes were mostly purchased at thrift stores of one variety or another, the only way we could squeak through the month with food. All the syllabi sent home from teachers requiring signatures! It was hard to keep track of which child was taking which classes and wending my way around school on back-to-school night was something akin to Alice chasing the White Rabbit.

Although three weeks remain of summer, Labor Day always seems to herald Autumn, my favorite season. And yet, I feel somewhat cheated by the summer we had this year. The blackberries did not ripen in time for a pie at the beach this year and there was not as much porch time as I would have liked. Still, I must admit to excitement of all that Autumn brings with her: harvest vegetables (if they ever ripen), crock-pot soups and Mother Nature’s storms (though not so violent as that of the last two Decembers, please!) and making plans for the Fall holidays.

The lazy days of summer, if such ever existed, are dwindling. Already my grandson is anticipating Halloween, our family’s favorite holiday. What are you sorry to see leave with Summer and what do you look forward to as we transition into Fall? My most anticipated occasion is the eminent arrival of the newest member of our family, a little girl due November 2nd!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Timothy Egan Gets The "Stranger In The Stadium" Right - But Here's More From A Turnabout Perspective

Timothy Egan is absolutely on target in his recent opinion piece in the New York Times (Stranger in a Stadium, August 27,2008) that the key to Obama's success at the Democratic convention and in the campaign will be "whether the stranger in the stadium sounded like someone who could lead (the American people) to a better day."

But for a tiny minority of the population like myself who are descendants of Japanese-American folks who lived on the West Coast of the United States prior to the outbreak of World War II and were subsequently rounded-up in the wartime internment, the comparison he tries to make between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Barack Obama in the beginning of his piece falls flat on its face.

Any points FDR may have made prior to his election with his forgotten man speech as alluded to by Egan were wiped out in this community when our family members discovered they were just "the forgotten man"whose liberties and civil rights FDR actually wanted to forget. The author goes on to assert "The nominee (in regards to Roosevelt) did not look or sound like most Americans..." Egan's failure in the same breath to mention the obvious then completely cripples the entire analogy - for me.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was always (white) mainstream. To this date, every one of the major political parties in this country has eventually fielded candidates who share this particular quality with FDR.

For the majority of Americans a white candidate has always defined normality. This is the mindset our entire culture has taken with it into all our presidential elections. So we find novel and question someone who comes to us falling outside the perimeters of normal, without stopping to ever ask if what we've defined as the reality of the universe continues to serve us?

To a non-white Asian-American female and contemporary of Egan who had the privilege of briefly observing him under my maiden name on a handful of occasions in the student coed dorms at the University of Washington, when I was the roommate of a student from Orinda, CA by the name of Kay Knudsen with whom he used to converse, who'd come up from Calfornia to become a Husky and share an address from 1973-74 at Haggett Hall, North Tower, fifth and sixth floors.

The 2008 election year will mark (unlike Egan) a very special first occasion in the half century plus life of this native citizen and American voter. For the very first time since registering to vote promptly following my eighteenth birthday, I'll be able to support a candidate whose life story on so many levels has familiar parallels with my own having read Obama's book "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" (New York Times Books 1995) .

I highly identify with those experiences described in Obama's book where Egan says he was
"trying to fit into his identity" into the larger framework of the American experience. But I can scarcely believe the sheer novelty of having the general electorate deal with unaccustomed issues like this which were always within the normality of mine!

After eagerly following the course of presidential campaigns for years since my introduction to politics as a seventh grader in Wayne G. Angevine's (a former Washington state legislator turned seventh grade social studies instructor) homeroom class at C.W. Sharples Junior High during the 1967-68 school year, this will be the debut of an election where a ballot a candidate whose overall look and feel is more like me.

Unlike previous presidential elections I won't have to go a great distance or try to find a fit with the slate of candidates (some of whom over the years don't even bother to appeal to political blocks including me) or be forced to suspend or convolute my beliefs in order to make-a-match with a particular political wannabe like Cinderella's ugly stepsisters tried to make with a certain crystal clear cut-glass slipper.

(Ed. note: if you belong to a small enough minority as to never constitute a significant block, all the hope, faith and work in the whole world won't ensure you ever count.)

And while this year for the majority of Americans this poses a bit of a dilemma, for people such as myself there's a little bit of a silver lining in this totally unexpected turnabout. There's a window of opportunity to entertain the possibility more of my fellow citizens may have a moment of clarity, an eye-opening insight of the magnitude, to drum up the kind of compassion folks like the Dalai Lama have mentioned and emotionally get what it's like to feel when you belong to the rest of the population.

For once I can entertain saying to my fellow voters - "Welcome to the real world folks ! The very same world a good many of you have had the luxury and options to overlook. Tell me what it's like now the shoe's on your foot?

This knowledge will surely bring us that much closer to the day the United States will be the nation of all our dreams, because the true peace and unity so many people profess to desire will never take place so long as the majority sits comfortable and satisfied amidst the blessings of their sheer weight and number.

As long as political parties engage in the kind of campaign activities writer Egan mentions in his article that named and un-named Republican boosters of McCain are using to target Obama to cause unease among voters, our country will continually hobble or even regrettably further fracture, falling short through deliberate design of the potential we've been blessed as with so many similar campaigns designed to ensure and nurture a only people like us mentality. And regardless of this phenomena or any universal delusions the culture chooses to maintain, be assured that ultimately we always get the government we justly deserve.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My mentor, Father William Bichsel, Society of Jesus

Thank you, wonderful Bill Bichsel for:

1. Being my spiritual director at Gonzaga University in the early sixties. I was going through some mean head trip times and you listened to me and affirmed me. I cannot remember what we talked about; but I know my trust in you began in those tough, tough days.

2. Bringing my family back to the Roman Catholic Church. You blessed my mother and stepfather's wedding. And she (Lourina Burditt) was the head of the first parish council at the Church of the Immaculate in Seattle and because of the work of her St. Vincent de Paul Committee did at that wonderful Church many poor families had food, clothing, and money made available to them.

3. Supporting me through the two hard years prior to my being approved for ordination. I was really going through changes... trying to figure out how to be a Black man who believed in love and nonviolence. You hung in there with me and the day I got the letter saying that I would be ordained, didn't we party hard, hard, hard!

4. Helping me to see the connection between race--war--peace. Not only by what you said, but what you did... always working to bring people of different classes and races together to love one another--- feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, and challenging us all to let go of our fears and let go of our need to have the most powerful military machine the world has ever known.

My respect and love for you knows no bounds.

Here is an eight minute video of my wonderful mentor speaking at his eightieth birthday celebration.

If These Walls Could Talk

Monday night I went on an interesting tour of the YWCA building. Miriam Barnett, Executive Director invited me and several other business women on a tour as she is very passionate of the work they do and loves to share her passion with others. Recently we had attended the annual YWCA luncheon and requested more information about this worthwhile organization, so a tour seemed very fitting to get insight into their day to day operations. Being a historian I loved seeing the swimming pool (which was drained in the 1990’s), the view overlooking Commencement Bay; the narrow stairwell with concrete steps; the locker room; gymnasium and the performance stage which now "acts" as an office. Just think of the plays women used to perform in this building! Of course my mind wanders with the stories the walls could tell if only they could talk. However interesting the history of this building is, the immediate need is much greater. Women call the shelter every day to see if there is room available for themselves and their children; seeking a safe place to stay and find assistance to get away from domestic violence and into a job, to find self worth and a home of their own.

The YWCA opened in 1927 in Tacoma by a group of women who raised money in just two weeks to provide a safe place to stay for traveling women. In the early 1930’s a maître de’ from the YWCA would wait at the train station seeking women who traveled alone and needed a place to stay, offering the YWCA to fill that need. In 1976 the building was transformed into its current use – again a safe place; now offering a support shelter and services for women of domestic violence. Think for a few minutes of the needs of these women.

I encourage you to view their website and see how you can assist the YWCA in their journey.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Parents: The End of Summer Squeeze Play

For the last couple of years, we “staycation” in August as we are reticent to leave the South Sound during the summer GLORY DAYS when our town is shiny, warm, and easy-breezy. The husband takes a couple of weeks off and we pack it full with fishing, crabbing, sports, day trips, family parties, time with friends, barbeques, farmer’s markets, eating out, eating in, and just being outside. And we sprinkle in my daughter’s birthday party. Sounds fab, right?

You parents of young ‘uns know better. Yeah, it’s good times, but it’s tiring times, too. Making memories can be hard and unforgiving “work.” And with the gentle whisper of heading back to school becoming a loud scream, the time left takes on an even more frantic and “packin’ all in” pace. I personally raised the bar of “outpacing myself” this year during the stretch of August 16th through August 20th, during our humidity and late summer heat wave, mind you.

The precursor was August 13th. I was due at Jo Emery Ballet School for ballet dance class that warm summer night. The outside air was perfect, the kids were actually occupied, hubby was home, the wine was crisp and cool and I couldn’t go. Hubby and I were talking. Without INTERRUPTION! I just wanted to plant my behind on a lawn chair and just BE. But I felt guilty not going. I felt like, “God, I’ll miss out; what if I can’t go next week?” You know, there I sat anyway, and blissfully just chilled out. It was worth it.

Ah, the calm before the thunderstorm.

August 16th was my daughter’s 7th birthday and the party plans were in motion, carefully planned, and timed beautifully. Yeah, right.

Things started to break. A sprinkler head on our sprinkler system was spraying everywhere it shouldn’t, the clothes dryer wouldn’t work (with several loads of smoldering, sweaty clothes in queue plus a wet, molding load to boot), and a bathroom door wouldn’t shut properly. Leaving my poor husband to deal with these issues, I decide to take a quick shower before getting down to Fred Meyer to pick up my daughter’s cake and a multitude of last minute items I forgot to get (hello, BEVERAGES for the guests, Kim!). I decided to “speed shave” my legs. Brilliant! Two nicked up and stinging shins later, I pop out of the shower and bend over to wrap a towel around my wet hair. I discover that the right side of my nose is profusely dripping blood. I have cut it somehow, some way, and I can’t get it to calm down. I check the clock and I am twenty minutes behind schedule. I try to find a tiny, discreet bandage. No luck. So, I head to the store with wet hair and a large, Hello Kitty Bandaid plastered across my nose. Awesome.

For the party itself, I was makeup-less, sunscreen-less, and utterly exhausted thirty minutes before the guests arrive. The sad part, that this was a simple, low key party. Seriously!

Well, at least my nose stopped bleeding and the Bandaid was history and I sported a scab on my face.

But we parents, children’s party hosts, seem to acquire superhuman strength with a smile and just get through it anyway no matter the circumstances. Yet we do crack at some point. I remember many parents at the party (who also had small kids), volunteer rapid fire to help serve cake. Perhaps it was that glazed, autopilot look I had on my face that did the trick.

After the party, the house was a complete explosion of birthday party trash, mounds of stinky laundry, and soiled carpets and it was over 90 degrees. I melted into heap drinking beer and ordering things off the internet, my hands still cramped from wrestling the birthday toys out of the horrendous packaging. I looked forward to a nice sleep. No way. Thunderstorms and humidity disrupted my sleep so much so, that I ended up listening to infomercials on AM radio in the wee hours as I couldn’t settle into my book or anything really cerebral. If you want to know about “Purity” vitamin supplements, just ask me.

By the time I woke up, I was ready to call the 800 number to order the vitamins. We headed out for a planned and weary family breakfast and then to an anniversary party in Woodinville at a golf course. The party was fun, but sweaty and cold blooded native Pacific Northwesterners like me, who find over 75 degrees “oppressive,” tend to fair poorly. But here is the true party triumph: My nine year old slipped off with cousins and was found wading up to his chest in the water feature on the golf course trying to find lost high end golf balls he could sell on Ebay. I was too tired to feel freaked out when the entire serving staff and a golf marshal had a little “talk” (complete with good natured giggles and guffaws, mind you) with me. So, we got home late, with a smelly, wet child and a totally exhausted and grumpy child and the junk and dirty dishes were then in triplicate.

Monday, the 18th, my husband groggily returned to work and the kids and I stayed in pj’s until 11:00 AM. I weakly attempted to clean. We ate party leftovers, watched cartoons, and turned in early.

On the 19th, the party leftovers were waning and the grocery staples were depleting. The dryer wasn’t working again. Everyone was grumpy. I did errands and some cleaning with my eyes half shut. I can’t remember much. That’s probably good.

On the 20th, the kids revolted when I offered to cook them up a fine box of mac ‘n’ cheese for breakfast. Lengthy grocery store trips with one child who refused to bathe and brush and the other who was sensitive, and fragile, led to forgotten list items (milk anyone?) and over purchase of non-essentials (zesty garlic pickle spears). Upon the return from the store, I then cleaned the house top to bottom, room to room. I was hoping to sneak away to ballet dance class that night, but after being summoned to initiate a baby bird rescue effort that ended up going astray (the bird was fine, but my head got covered in dirt, pine needles, and bird poop), it was not to be. After wash-rinse-repeating three times to get the crud out of my hair, there would be no way to make it on time. I missed out again.

Or did I?

As the kid’s nerves of excitement, nerves of steel, and the nervous nerves of returning to school are currently in play, my nerves are a little shook too. There will be a day, a day that will be here in a blink, where it gets really quiet in the house. And that day, the house will be clean, the fridge will be stocked, and I will feel well rested. My calendar will tell the tale of earlier missed things all revisited, and with ease. Whether I am dancing, studying French, playing the flute, or sword fighting, what does it matter? It’s great to have your stuff, your deal, and heck, YOU as a whole, but I know, in my heart of hearts, I’ll remember those squished summer days with fondness, a deep breath, and a smile.

And frankly, give me some more squished days, little kiddos, and summertime, summertime, summertime any day. I’ll take ‘em, maybe not easily, but I’ll take ‘em.


Among the many gifts I receive is the gift of the "love letter--" a tool used in Marriage Encounter that invites those who write a "love letter," to take time to reflect on and write down the feelings they experience which focus on a question which they and the people with whom they are sharing their letters have agreed to listen to what they have written, understand, and accept.

Today I traded letters with two friends, a married couple, and I was so moved by what they presented to me that I asked them to let me offer this to you for your own consideration.

The first letter was written by my woman friend, the second by her husband.
I end this post with a note and video I received from my friend, John O'Brien, the owner of Trinity I am always glad to hear from him and I really enjoyed the video celebrating Martin King's Birthday that he sent with his e-mail.

I hope you find the pictures I have included with the letters and the video helpful.

A specific experience I had this week occurred yesterday afternoon when I arrived home from work. I had been looking forward to coming home after Raymond and the children had been gone all week. I was happy. No sooner did I walk in the door and make my way to the kitchen, however, did my feeling begin to change. There was a cloud hanging overhead as I saw the three of you (them) playing cards and intent on finishing their game before getting up. A wave of hurt washed over me and I became sad. I did not think I had any expectations when I arrived home, but I acted as if all I had “expected” did not pan out. This began a downward spiral of emotion that lasted really until I went to bed.

This experience evoked in me a “fight or flight” mode and all I really wanted to do was “hide” and not talk about it which is not my usual M.O. , but one that appears when I do not understand my actions or feelings and neither does anyone else! I felt overwhelmed, alone, hurt, and sad. My strongest feeling was sad. It was an on the verge of tears sort of feeling. Sad would look like a bunch of flowers a child collects for his mom. By the time he gets them home they are drooping and many of the petals have fallen off. They look limp and in need of water.

Sad is like watching your best friend drive down the street with her family to a new home in another town. When you are young you think you will never find another friend like that so you are heartbroken. The same could be said of a first love that just broke up with you. There is a deep pain in your chest and you want to curl up in bed and hide under the covers. It is sad like wanting your mom to hug you, but knowing you must wait to see her in heaven for that. There is nothing you can do. So there is a little frustration in there too. Sad is a faded yellow color like a bright shirt that was washed on warm with dark colors. Now it is just dingy. My sad feeling was a 7-8 on the scale.

A specific experience I had this week was being called unexpectedly by our Area leaders and asked to help find couples to fill in for some pulpit talks at the last minute. The couple expected to give the talks was hospitalized with chest pains. Since the talks were scheduled out of our Area (about an hour away), it was challenging to find someone to travel to give them at the last minute. When one of our area couples agreed to go, we were moved by their selflessness and decided to go with them. Even though we didn’t “feel” like it, they inspired us and we saw it as an opportunity to enjoy some time with them in the car and for dinner afterwards. Naturally, it turned out to be time well spent. Making small sacrifices like this helps me to see a little more clearly how we are attempting to be obedient to God instead of fulfilling our own wants/desires first.

I feel loving, glad, joyful, and blessed about this. My strongest feeling is glad. My glad feeling is a smiling on the inside sort of feeling. It’s not radiant or overflowing; it’s more of a quiet, reflective, simple gladness. My glad feeling reminds of how I feel sometimes when I watch our nieces and nephews with their own children. Adrianne, and Sean & Melissa display a wonderful patience and loving demeanor with the kids. It fills me with this same sort of glad feeling to watch them and see the fabulous parents they have become. Glad is like getting a bouquet of flowers from a loved one or friend when you’ve just had surgery or gone through a rough time. So, I guess it’s an unexpected, surprising sort of feeling as well. It’s about a 6 on the scale.

Hey Joseph:
I received this email from a customer who made a little tribute to MLK. The picture is not the best in the world but the song is great…I can’t stop singing or humming it. I thought you might get a kick out of it. The link is below.

PS: Don’t forget to tell everyone about our huge Overstock/Liquidation sale (Yes, I am always selling :).

Take care! Be well! Peace!
John P. O'Brien
Trinity Stores

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Introduce Yourself to the Civil Rights History of Tacoma's African American Community

If there's one museum exhibit that's on my upcoming calendar of things to do it is "Tacoma's Civil Rights Struggle: African Americans Leading The Way" which recently opened at the Washington State History Museum (WSHM) 1911 Pacific Avenue, in Tacoma.

This is a fascinating multi-media view into what issues and concerns members of the local African American community faced in securing a more equitable footing in the area against the backdrop of civil rights activity in other parts of the nation during the 50's and 60's.

As I did most of my growing up in the mid 50's to mid 70's to the north in Seattle (which included noting the crowd of police cars surrounding my junior high school on all sides the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed) the story which is being told at the WSHS through December 7, will be my first introduction to what went on in the South Sound.

Since the closure of an African American oriented museum in Tacoma (which I had the pleasure of making a brief visit some years back) it may well be the kind of educational opportunity those of us who are not fully familiar with this history or blessed with personal friends, family and acquaintances in the community can take advantage of and share.

As a descendant of Japanese immigrant grandparents who arrived in the Pacific Northwest from Shizuoka and Kumamoto-ken over a hundred years ago, I have been more than thankful of the existence and availability of South Sound resources such as the WSHM, Asia Pacific Cultural Center along with Seattle's Wing Luke Asian Museum to share with my own family, friends and my fellow citizens the history and culture that links me with my parents and grandparents.

It is the kind of opportunity that was highly desired and sorely lacking in my childhood and unfortunately the type of project that often has required some initiative from within those very communities to make such a program a reality, as often many but not all movers and shakers in the mainstream during years past have easily overlooked or not found such projects to be of sufficent and pressing priority.

Coincidentally, it was only at WSHM where I saw for the first time in my life as a fully-grown adult an exhibit in a mainstream institution on the World War II internment of my family which was artfully constructed to flow within the other major exhibits in the museum and did not come with the emotional feeling of having been added (as in other places years past) somewhat belatedly in an awkward corner, put-up in a last minute, make-do fashion as space is made for an unwanted or barely remembered relative.

On a personal note I'm also curious as to if any ties were able to be forged between various communities or individuals in this area such as ones between King County Executive Ron Sims and his childhood Japanese-American buddies whose long friendship (as he shared at a program I attended at the University of Washington in 2006) helped form the kind of ties that would allow this African American leader to extend the hand of bold, pioneering friendship while an aide to State Senator George Fleming, UW Husky football legend and the first African American to sit in the Washington State Senate, to support persons in my ethnic community pursuing efforts to obtain monetary redress in the late 70's and 80's at a local, state and national levels in regards to leftover issues related to the World War wartime incarceration.

While such bonds and connections are certainly not a requirement of any individual or community - the past existence of such warm connections gives some hint or promise that similar connections might be forged today or in the future of the kind which we can all try and anchor a few of our own hopes.

Thankfully, unlike in the days of my youth there are resources and opportunities such as my spouse and I enjoyed on a trip to Naselle, WA that I blogged about last month to see the Finnish American Folk Festival in Naselle, WA and this exemplary exhibit at WSHM to learn about, support and celebrate the hard work, effort, struggles and accomplishments of an increasingly longer list of our neighbors belonging to other racial, social, cultural and ethnic communities whose collective gifts irregardless of our present state of awareness - have and continue to make the Pacific Northwest the real home it is for all of us.

I would highly recommend a well-written article in the August 21, 2008 issue of The Tacoma Weekly by Matt Nagle on the new exhibit at WSHM. Here is the link.

Friday, August 22, 2008

All In A Day's...Magic

Some days, more than others, give us notice of the beauty of life...and the price of admission. Monday was such a day for me, giving cause for celebration all week.

As a singer, my body is the instrument and my mouth, of course, a most important part. To make sure I knew as much as I could about this instrument and how to keep it honed for a lifetime, I studied for over three years with Professor Bonnie Kirk from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, also a member of the New York City Opera Company. It was a great investment that paid back handsomely in better knowledge and control over the living musical instrument I wanted to have for a lifetime.

Last Friday I found three small growths under my tongue.
I made a Monday appointment with my doctor and spent my weekend, as you can imagine, thinking all kinds of things while trying to think of nothing. In my mind's eye I kept seeing Willie Nelson's old Martin guitar...yeah the beat-up acoustic you've seen at every one of his performances. It's got holes, dents and scratches...but it still sings.

In the middle of the whirlwind that is living, the "what ifs" pulled me to my centre of stored survival skills, gratitude. How grateful I am for this human experience in a world of beauty, and grateful for the love and support of my family. There was no need for chewing-of-the-scenery drama, just the quiet holding of my blessings to help me wait.

"It's not Cancer," is a melodious phrase on a Monday afternoon. My doctor laughed as I engulfed him in a big Mama Mayhem hug, all decorum forgotten! Outside his office, the natural Pacific Northwest beauty I love so much seemed to light-up and shower me with the wealth of just BEING. I drove home to Home with the guardian trees on each side of the road waving at the parade...not knowing even more magic was afoot!

A little orange slip of paper in my mailbox told me that a package was waiting for me, down at the post office, and my heart jumped, knowing what it was. A young woman in Alaska had been working on a piece of artwork for three months, as a gift for me. Coming with love from a friend, it arrived the day it needed to...whichever way the news went down at the doc's office. That's the magic I choose to see in this life. That's the love and spirit I delight in sharing.

I had no idea just how gobsmackingly amazing this pen and ink of Anna and me would be! The artist wishes to remain anonymous and does not sell her work but I am allowed to show you the magic of a piece called "Across the Universe Between Mother & Daughter." (I apologize for webcam shots.)

It's a coin-toss, what we will or won't have to struggle with, in this life but the choice of our view? That's our own personal magic to draw upon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tacoma Resources

I have a few resources that I have used and I believe I should share them with my neighborhood.
~With this website you are able to access many sources. Street lights(591-5287), Traffic Signals/signs, and Potholes. You can submit your complaints through the website. I have done this before and it does work.

Abandoned Autos
~591-5926 - With this number you can report abandoned autos in your neighborhood. It helps to have a description, location, and license plate number.

Tacoma Cares
~591-5001 – Also a source I use. With this number you can report a problem neighbors yard. It is anonymous, but please use with care. You will need the address and a reason for your complaint.

Non-Emergency Number
~798-4721 –Use this when the crime isn’t desperate.

Drug dealing neighbors
~I have dealt with drug dealing neighbors before. If you have this problem I suggest contacting your CLO and keeping a log of license plates and the cars they are on. Sharing that information with your CLO with help you rid you of your drug bad neighbor sooner.

~No one likes the idea of it happening, but unfortunately it does. I know from personal experience. I can only recommend a few things. It is always good to write down you serial numbers. It is great to have specific descriptions and even pictures. I think it is even better to buy a cheap engraver and engrave your items if possible. Pawn shops will take notice of such things. It is their job.

~I am going to tell you what I tell them. No! You don’t owe them any excuse of why you won’t give them money. Just say no. I am so sick of the panhandlers here. I have one that knocks on my door every so often. I always say no. Heck, call the non-emergency number and report them. Especially, if it is a man approaching females.


All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms,
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like a snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad
made to his mistress’ eyebrow.

Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation.
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part.

The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

William Shakespeare

Enjoy my reading of the selection

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Walk About On The Chambers Bay Golf Course

Previously, I have seen The Chambers Bay Golf Course in two different ways, by trail and by sea. The golf course, surrounded by a challenging and picturesque paved walking/sports trail open to the public, has been a neighborhood exercise and fresh air haven for me since it opened. As a walker/runner on the trails, you get some views of the stunning golf course, sprinkled with players, particularly from the upper Grandview Trail. But many parts of the course seem rather hidden from view. I have also seen the course by water, from a boat’s perspective. From the water, it looks like the land fell down and got scraped all up. Eh, not such a big deal from that view.

But it was a big deal last week, when I joined my husband, Rick, as a “walk on” while he played the course (I have not swung a golf club in 10 years, so walking along was fine with me). Rick’s been golfing since he was a kid and claims this course as his most favorite ever. I wanted to get a picture of what he was talking about. And that walk about the course gave me some true perspective.

On the way down to the practice area, you feel like you are descending into a whole new world. The cheery golf staff and superb service, pretty scenery, and challenging practice area and putting/chipping greens, were a fantastic welcome for any golfer. Rick was paired up with a kindly father and son and their family friend (from Olympia and Salem, Oregon, respectively). All four were experienced, long time golfers. And right on the first hole, I made a keen observation right away: this course is challenging, big time.

It’s like this: you’re down inside this little bowl, looking up at the crisp blue sky, the trees and trail behind you, the sparkling bay waters in front of you, the bobbing boats, the crisp outline of the Olympic Mountains, and the cool, sweet saltwater beachy smell in the air. And while you could see folks on the trail, in many spots they can’t see you giving you this private little world. We even saw a falcon fly over us majestically carrying a fish in its talons, the fish’s tail still swinging. Yet don’t let this beauty fool you. The instant you swing that golf club, the scenery disappears and the course, says, “Hey! You are here for ME. I’m in charge.” Indeed!

Slow greens, narrow escapes, twisty par fives and par fours, wicked scrubby stuff that you DON’T want your ball to go into, and sand traps that will swallow your ball alive. For the golfer, your mind must be focused, you must plan your shots and lay-ups, the slopes and bends of the putts; if you don’t, it’s tough. And sometimes, just one errant shot can put your game in a world of hurt. My husband smacked a drive right into this steep hill of brush. He hiked up, muscles straining, to find the ball. Upon his return, his calves were covered in scratches.

The hills didn’t stop there either. The course goes up and down and back again. No correction: WAY up and down again. As a walking only course (carts are provided under very special circumstances only), it is not for the faint of heart. It’s 7 and ½ miles of demanding walking. Pull carts are allowed and available to rent (thank goodness). But many brave souls hauled their bags on their backs.

And remember, this course has ONE signature tree. So, there’s really no sun relief. I learned this the hard way. I didn’t wear a hat and forgot to wear sunscreen on my face. Enough said about that.

But despite the degrees of difficulty, and even when some of the golfers were completely mentally and physically worn out, they loved every minute of it.

I overheard some groups recalling their golf shots, whether they were triumphs or foibles and they wore them like badges of courage. And every one of them would come back for more, again and again. It was like being initiated into the big time golf world, in your own back yard and having a love/hate relationship with the game, with love coming out on top every time.

So, I got it. I got why the golfers go through this exercise. Heck, I was even itching to grab a club and give it go. And afterward, settling on the balcony of the clubhouse restaurant, a sunburned face, my dogs a barkin’, sipped a tall cool beer, and gazed out it all, wishing for the next time to get down in this golf course’s foxhole with the other golfers, swapping war and peace stories.

To note: photo above was taken by Rick Thompson May 2008

TV Star Once Again!

On Monday morning, a friend of mine called to ask if I wanted to join her in the audience to watch our Pastor, Martin Yabroff as he performed an Episcopal service on Eucharist TV at the KING 5 TV studio. I could certainly work this into my schedule and I thought sure, this sounds adventurous. So on Tuesday morning Linda, Ruth, Reberta, Martin and I piled into Donna's van and headed off to Seattle. Driving our drive Martin explained each of us would also have a part in the live taping of Eucharist TV. Surprised but eager to partake, we all took roles we would normally participate in at our St. Andrew’s Church, Tacoma. But oh! Being on TV, now this would be different for us! Arriving at KING 5 studio, we walked into the lobby where four flat screen TVs on the left side caught our eye for only a moment when we noticed large photos of the KING 5 TV personalities on the right side, all which bore big smiles and were neatly autographed. Mike Jackson, Director of Eucharist TV met us in the lobby and took us to the studio. Mike directed us on how we were to walk into the scene, where to stand and gave us a bulletin which the service would be read from. Still nervous, Linda, Donna and I all mentioned if we knew were going to be on TV we would have worn a different outfit. Oh we women are so funny, what we wear is so important! Soon the taping began and the service was very similar to a regular service we would hold at our church, only condensed to fit into a 28 minute time frame. Once the first taping finished we had a short break and then taped a second service. Robotic cameras, studio lights, and of course the Spirit was all with us during this unique service where your current audience is only an empty studio. In the TV world, Eucharist TV has a viewing audience of over 4000 people in Washington and Canada ans is shown each Sunday on KONG TV. I will certainly add this to my resume of exciting life experiences. The services will be show at 5am on August 31st and September 7th. I encourage you to watch it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Want to Blog the Puyallup?

Hello, bloggers. You'll rarely see me post in this space; this is your forum, not the TNT's!

But several of you came to mind as I launch our plans to bring back our Fair Blog next month. We're fishing for participants in the paper over the next several days:

"Want to be an Internet writer for us at the Puyallup Fair? For the second year, The News Tribune plans to blog the fair’s 17-day run in September, pointing out the sweet deals, making off-the-cuff observations and providing spontaneous reports on things to do and places to avoid. Interested? Drop an e-mail to or call her at 253-552-7058."

Let Melissa, our Puyallup beat reporter, know if you're interested -- or you can always query me. We'll have a secure computer set up at the fairgrounds. You'd have to commit to blogging a minimum of four times during a single day at the fair. (A second day could be negotiated!) We'll give you a free gate ticket and parking pass.

As the ol' theme song says: "You can blog it at a trot, you can blog it a gallop!" Or something like that.

* Matt Misterek, News Tribune team leader,

42nd Street, a Seaview Treasure

A Review from My Porch

One of the nicest treats anyone can give themselves while visiting the Long Beach Peninsula is dinner at the 42nd Street Café in Seaview. Whether it’s Sunday morning breakfast, a leisurely lunch or a special dinner, 42nd Street never fails to deliver a divine repast.

Last night my husband and I celebrated our 18th anniversary. Dave had asked me where I wanted to go to dinner. We considered several new restaurants on the Peninsula, but not wanting to risk a special occasion to chance in the end we decided to stick with a place we would be assured of elegant food and a warm welcome.

42nd Street Café has been in business in Seaview, WA for twenty years and offers the best of Northwest cuisine along with some traditional American offerings such as a half chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy which was right up our daughter’s alley. Dave had jambalaya with shrimp and chicken while I had the sesame encrusted sturgeon with Thai dipping sauce, steamed vegetables and rice. Their chocolate rum truffle cheese cake was the perfect anniversary dessert. In February my girlfriend and I celebrated our birthdays at 42nd Street and our dessert came with a roman candle in it!

42nd Street Café is a little Seaview treasure. During the holiday season they feature dinner with harp music. You can listen to Christmas carols while you dine on food that warms your heart as well as your tummy. Seating is limited so dinner reservations are recommended, especially if you’re visiting during one of the Peninsula’s many festivals. The service is excellent so if you are forced to wait for a table, the wait may not be long. Many are the times that we’ve taken grandma there for breakfast on Sunday and had only a wait of a few minutes before a table could be prepared.

If you plan a trip to the Long Beach Peninsula for the Kite Festival, the Rod Run or just winter storm watching, be sure to set aside at least one meal for the 42nd Street Café. Check out their menus. You won’t be sorry.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Street Car Named Destiny

Tacoma Historical Society is hosting their 2nd Annual “DESTINY” Dinner & Auction – “A Streetcar Named Destiny”, Sunday October 12, 2008 at the Tacoma Yacht Club. be sure to save the date for this exciting event! The Society will host this annual fundraising event from 4 – 8 pm. Brian Kamens and Morgan Alexander will speak about Tacoma’s streetcars – how the streetcars played an important transportation role in early Tacoma and how they might return. The auction features a unique jewelry piece created by Steph Farber of LeRoy Jewelers. Farber is re-creating the famous “Star of Destiny” which Allen C. Mason penned in the late 1800s and used as a promotion to attract people to our wonderful city. Other auction items include a driving tour of Tacoma’s former streetcar system; historic photos of Tacoma; a Lionel K-line trolley set and a 2-hour historic harbor cruise aboard the Destiny cruise ship.

Tacoma Historical Society operates an Exhibit Center, monthly public programs and the annual Historic Homes of Tacoma Tour. For additional information call 253-472-3738, visit or email

Little Cat Feet

Or the View Through the Fog

THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
~Carl Sandburg

The fog has not moved on lately here on the coast. While temperatures have hovered around 90 in Seattle and 100 in Portland, the Long Beach Peninsula has sat in the fog for days with only a snatch of sun between waves of fog. Tourists escaping the heat of those cities have hit the local thrift stores and conversations have been overheard to include such things as “Why didn’t you pack something warm?!”

The fog horns at North Head and Cape Disappointment welcome the numerous ships entering the mouth of the Columbia River, also known as the Graveyard of the Pacific. Ships have gone aground as recently as 1996. One not listed on the roll call of ships lost happened forty years ago and was saved. A tuna boat captain became confused in the fog and did not realize he’d missed the entrance to Ilwaco’s harbor until he heard the breakers around his boat. Too late to maneuver out of the breakers without possibly capsizing the vessel he put the engine on full throttle and drove it onto the beach at Peacock’s Spit, also known as Benson Beach. Thereafter began the salvage process which extended over three days while the boat was drug onto huge logs and then pulled by bulldozers across the beach and down a gravel road to the boat-launch located at Ft. Canby where it was successfully floated and saved. The process provided a carnival atmosphere for tourists and locals alike.

Tomorrow begins the Kite Festival. The temperatures inland are to moderate, but include thunderstorms and the possibility of showers which is in the forecast for the coast as well. It does not bode well for kite fliers as well as those having house repairs.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Madonna!

Today is Madonna’s birthday. Madonna the singer, I might add. While I have been a long time fan of Madonna’s I must say I have never met her. I really don’t know her personally nor is she my friend. I would love to meet her and tell her we share the same two middle names.

What would I do if I had the opportunity to meet her? I would shake her hand and tell her what a strong woman she is, what a smart business woman she is and how powerful many of her songs have been for me. I enjoy the fact that she writes most of her own songs. Some of my favorite lines from her songs which are most meaningful to me are: “Nothing takes the past away like the future”; “Traveling down their own road watching the signs as they go, isn’t everyone just traveling down their road? Think I’ll follow my heart, it’s a very good place to start”; “There’s no greater power than the power of goodbye”. I have sent Madonna emails and birthday cards over the years. Today I write happy birthday to her in a blog from Tacoma!

Friday, August 15, 2008


A very special lady in Alaska has given me permission to share this email with you. I think it is honest, insightful, and inspiring. Enjoy!!!
Dear Friends, after leaving the gym tonight James and I went to buy milk. I met a lady named Rebecca in the grocery store tonight. She shared with me she was here because her Mom just died after a 2-year battle with cancer. She was elated to hear we had 9 kids, as she was one of 8. As we conversed we realized she was a nurse like me, and lives about 20 minutes from my Dad.

As the conversation went on I realized Jesus was using me as a vessel for her. I'm not sure what for but I know I was supposed to be there at that moment in time. We ended with her saying "God has a beautiful way of putting people in our lives, Thanks so much for talking with me". As I came home to do my preparation for some medical testing at Providence I had an overwhelming push to write these reflections about GOD OPPORTUNITIES! First, if you are able to read this God has allowed you another opportunity.
My question is: What will we do with this opportunity?

You know, we miss so much because we deal with circumstances instead of focusing on the author of our faith.

Do we really believe God?
Do we really believe His Word?
Do we really think He can and will do what He promises?

Can we rest in the fact that if He does not do anything else, He has done what no one else would do because He died for our sins and us?
Everyday He gives us breath and if we truly believe in God we are given another opportunity to be better for Him. As much as we think it may be, it is not about us. Yesterday, last week, last month, last year, and however long we have lived on this earth is now gone. We cannot do anything about that time but we can do something about the here and now.

Are you going through a hardship?, Are you being tested?, Is life beating you up?, Do you think living God's call is tough? Well you are in the perfect place for God to do what He does best, bring us out and use us for His purposes.
Personally, I have come to know and understand that we are always in one of these stages in our lives, going into the storm, coming through the storm or coming out of the storm. At these times we ask?
Who allowed the storm?, Who has weathered every storm?, Who is waiting on us to carry us during this time? Since we know the answer, why are we troubled? We are tools in His tool shed, His hands and feet on earth. Finally, whatever the day, hour, minute or second may bring, God is there with us, He has been there always carrying us when we could not carry ourselves. Jesus keeps His promises.

So dear friends, I ask you to welcome your test, grow in them, praise Him through them and triumph for the victory God will give you whenever the storms are over. Since we are God's children, we know without a doubt, if Jesus did not test our faith in Him we could never be a witness or give a testimony and our testimonies are seldom for us but for someone else God has put in your path. Your family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers in the grocery store are watching to see if your talk is lining up with your walk.

Jesus made each of us in His image so when we act Christ-like in our daily lives we might be the only “Jesus” for the person God sends our way.

In you go through life’s storms: smile, pray, praise, witness, worship and know "this too shall pass". You will be a stronger and better person for the Lord. He will equip you with what you need for His call. In Worldwide Marriage Encounter we say, "God does not call the qualified He qualifies the called." Be Blessed. Take advantage of your power and have a wonderful day in our Lord. I felt compelled by God to write this reflection. I guess someone needs this today!

Humbly in His Holy Grip, Shaharriet Houchins

James and Shaharriet Houchins, Anchorage, Alaska
2004 Alaska Parents of the Year
WWME Weekend and Team Pillar Leadership

Picking the Vice Presidential Candidate

Ruminating on My Porch
The choice of a presidential running mate may be more crucial during this election than ever in the history of the United States. Since the Civil War it has generally been believed that one of the candidates on a ticket ought to be from the South in order to ensure a sizeable showing in that part of the country. If a candidate is considered Liberal, should a more Conservative running mate be picked or vice versa? It is a delicate balancing act a presidential candidate must perform.

This year there is more than securing the election to be considered in the choice of a running mate. It is a chilling notion, but there is the real possibility that regardless of which candidate is elected in November they will not live out the term whether from age or assassination.

As a child I learned about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in school and believed it to be part of a more violent era in history, but lived to see before I was grown the assassination not only of President John F. Kennedy, but Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy as well. Already one young man, possessing a considerable arsenal, has been arrested for endangering Barak Obama’s life. It only takes one hateful racist to perpetrate another tragedy. Whom should Obama pick as a running mate under the circumstances?

And then there’s John McCain who is by all accounts healthy for a man of his years, but whose age makes him a candidate not only for president, but for any number of debilitating or lethal medical problems. He is by far the most moderate of Conservatives. Whom will he pick to mollify the Right and at the same time feel assured of maintaining his agenda?

Who does the Neighborhood feel would make good running mates for Obama and McCain?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

No Good Guys in Russia-Georgia War

Today President Bush is sending American troops to Georgia on a humanitarian mission that will require a delicacy the Bush Administration is not known for. The situation between Georgia and Russia is not a black and white situation, but President Bush is a black and white sort of person. This situation has the earmarks of a return to a Cold War relationship with Russia and hopefully Congress will oversee the adventure so that we are not drawn into yet another conflict, one which would have the potential for even more disaster than the War in Iraq. Americans need to keep this story on the front page and Congress looking over the president’s shoulder.

Here’s an article from The Progressive from August 11th outlining the challenge American troops face.


Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer's lease hath all too short a date:

Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And oft' is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometimes declines
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd:

But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


The View from My Porch

It’s a beautiful morning here on the Long Beach Peninsula and ready or not, here the tourists come. The Washington State International Kite Festival begins Monday and already motels (especially those located near the Bolstad approach to the beach) and streets are beginning to fill with tourists. This is the time of year when negotiating the six block drive to my mother’s apartment proves challenging.

Last night when we drove to the beach to walk the dog the food tent for the Ilwaco Jr./Sr. High School Sports Boosters was going up. The Booster Club, many of them fishermen, put on a barbecued salmon dinner each year for the Kite Festival. The dinner includes coleslaw and corn on the cob or you can purchase a crab cocktail. Fishermen know how to cook salmon. There will be other food booths the length of the approach which will be for foot traffic only all of next week.

Events will be held for all ability levels and it will be an opportunity to see professional kite fliers from all over the world. Everything from the biggest to the littlest to the most will grace the skies of Long Beach. The forecast is for extremely good weather. That coupled with the slight dip in the price of gas should bode well for this year’s event.

When not on the beach, festival goers can visit the Washington State Kite Museum located on the Sid Snyder beach approach.

This year’s festival coincides with my husband’s vacation and for once someone else is doing work on our old house instead of him. Aside from finishing the fence he will be free to ride his bike to the beach to gawk at the kites and tourists. Taking the car is out of the question since the traffic will be backed up from Long Beach all the way through Seaview. People wanting to go to Astoria will be backed up from the light in Ilwaco to Black Lake.

It may not be too late to obtain reservations for next week, especially if one tries the North end of the Peninsula in Kilpsan or Ocean Park. Check the Long Beach webcams next week for a bird’s eye view of the doings. Unfortunately, the Kite Cam seems to be under the weather, but the other cams in town should give you an idea of what’s happening. I’ve contacted the webmaster of the Fun Beach website and we’ll hope they get it up and running before Monday.

Well, the UPS man turned out to be a very nice athletic young woman and a large box now graces my porch waiting for my husband’s arrival. Actually the box will make a great toy for my grandson whose arrival I await. Mostly, though, he will be wanting to be down on the "beach beach" flying his own Spiderman kite.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Get Me A South Sound Specialist In Artful Outdoor Living, Stat!

Totally dig groovy, South Sound oriented plants? Do you like to grow them, look at them, learn about them, or all three? Are you masterful with your gardening results or pretty hopeless?

My attempts at gardening have yielded some strange results. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “black thumb” (though I have been known to horribly neglect a houseplant or two). But I am awkward with plant design, although I try with all my heart. My unseen side garden and some large containers in the unseen backyard have been the source of my “experiments.” Typically, I struggle with things that end up growing way too big, or don’t grow the right way, or the plants have clashing colors and textures. My last concoction was a whole pile of “what the heck is THAT?” But, I am eager to learn and happily teachable.

So, I sought a teacher. And I found one in the form of Scott Gruber from the South Sound’s Calendula Nursery and Landscaping.

The word “calendula” itself intrigued me, so I looked it up. A “calendula” is a member of the daisy family and is related in some ways to the marigold. The key words that defined this flower were: reliable, edible, medicinal, and most importantly, versatile. It has been through my recent experience that Scott and the team at Calendula Nursery and Landscaping lived up to its name. Here’s how:

Reliable: Scott came over and met with my husband and I to discuss our front yard. As a sculptor, artist, and plant expert, we liked him immediately. He educated us on what plants we already had and really listened to what we wanted (easy, cool, and relaxing). I guess what I liked the most was the eagerness and interest—it’s like you could see the wheels of his mind working, thinking, processing. When we concluded our visit, he said he’d e-mail us a plan. And oh man, that plan was detailed, well written and exactly what we wanted. For us, we didn’t need to go further. We were done. We found our guy. I found my teacher. And he found fresh landscape to make his new muse.

Edible: Calendula really grooves with the idea of edibles in the garden. When Scott was installing blueberry bushes and an aronia plant (berries that are like, health-wise, blueberries on steroids, click HERE to learn more) in our yard, I was intrigued. Not because the plants were beautiful, but because they were interactive and fun. The kids went wild for this concept wholeheartedly and picked and devoured all of the blueberries in short order. Cool.

Medicinal: The medicinal effects for calendula involve treating acne, reducing inflammation, taking care of bleeding and irritation. Our previous look I suppose could be related to “acne,” but certainly, our new landscaping got rid of my “irritation” of an unworkable yard. And the beautiful new plants was the salve to heal our yard’s wounds.

Versatile: Scott and Calendula created a phenomenon in our neighborhood. Everyone in the area got a terrible case of rubber neck. And slow downness. And looky-loo. Masterful plantings, creative rock turning (seriously, he turned our original rocks on their sides to create fab sculpture), and seeing through the artist’s eye, it was a treat watching him work. And the coolest part was the description of what was done. During orientation, he exclaimed with a childlike delight, “…and this, in the fall, will give you OUTRAGEOUS color!” Anyone who uses the phrase “outrageous color” (and means it!)soars to the top in my little book of life.

Explore the Calendula nursery and landscaping website. I’ll make it easy for you: click HERE and go! High energy, fun, and locally spirited, you will learn many things. You’ll learn about plants obviously, but more than that, you can see some great creative art pieces that are custom made (I love the custom designed clocks, so check ‘em out). The nursery is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Tacoma and if you want a little in-town face time with Scott, hit Tacoma’s Proctor’s Farmer's Market to ask questions, learn, buy, and dream. You will not be disappointed.

Love in a Torn Land

A Review from My Porch

Love in a Torn Land might not be considered Summer reading fare, but then summer is on the down hill slide and it might do well for a Fall read. Written by Jean Sasson, Love in a Torn Land is the story of Joanna Al-Askari, an Iraqi Kurd who joined the Peshmergas—the Kurdish freedom fighters—in the 1980s because of her desire to fight the regime of Saddam Hussein. The book, although written by Sasson, tells the story in the first person which for me is sometimes off-putting, and tells Joanna’s story from a childhood in Baghdad to running for her life through the mountains to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war with her Peshmerga husband.

Sasson specializes in writing about women of the Middle East. Princess is the story of “Princess Sultana” (not her real name), a Saudi princess and her life as a wife and mother in a country in which women are little more than jewelry and the mothers of sons for men and where she has attempted to support a wider world for Saudi women. Sasson has written other books about Princess Sultana as well as one about Mayada, Daughter of Iraq.

Sasson’s books give a glimpse into the lives of women who live in the places that are not only in the news, but effect the politics and lives of Americans. Love in a Torn Land will give the reader insights into the Kurdish struggle against Hussein’s attempts to exterminate them and how the world turned a blind eye.

Anyone interested in the condition of women in the Middle East will find Sasson’s books most enlightening.